Cummins highlights connectivity, “power of choice”

Cummins' electrified powertrain inside the AEOS Class 7 concept truck is part of the engine maker's aim to create diverse powertrain options for customers. 

Cummins' electrified powertrain inside the AEOS Class 7 concept truck is part of the engine maker's aim to create diverse powertrain options for customers. 

At its opening press conference on Sunday ahead of the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta, Cummins Engine Business President Srikanth Padmanabhan highlighted the company’s “power of choice” approach going forward.

“At the very core, we win the marketplace by seeing the future first and beating the competition to it,” he said, before identifying three current disruptions taking place in the industry: connectivity, automation and energy diversity.

It is the energy diversity that Cummins is becoming known for, with diesel engines now being joined by near-zero natural gas powerplants and a soon-to-be introduced electrified powertrain, first introduced last month in the AEOS concept Class 7 truck.

Padmanabhan noted that future energy choices may include hybrid and fuel cell solutions as well.

“We want our customers and all users of our products to clearly understand that Cummins brings diversified, dependable technology solutions to our customers at the right time to power their success – always,” he said. “Cummins is prepared to help them be successful now and in the future by offering them powertrain choices that maximize efficiency and reduce costs.”

On the new AEOS truck, Padmanabhan noted that the idea of an electric powertrain is not new territory for Cummins.

“We’ve been [offering] electrified solutions for two decades,” he noted. “And we believe right now that it is viable because it is [becoming] economically feasible.”

Padmanabhan said that any solution that creates a payback within 2 years is worth pursuing. With electric automobiles expected to last longer than gas-powered cars, the question is whether electric powertrains will also last longer and will that change the trade/lease strategies for fleets. Padmanabhan told FreightWaves it is too early to know.

“Because resale value is such an important [data point] for truck fleets, I don’t know the answer,” he said. “It will take a little while for that to all shake out” and will depend on several factors, including durability of the engines and components and what kind of value fleets will want to recoup from the vehicles.

On connectivity, Padmanabhan said that the landscape is rapidly changing. “We didn’t have the ability to take that [engine] data and ask the customer what they want to do with that data,” he said. “That is what is starting to happen today.”

Among the solutions is connected diagnostics that can now recommend proactive maintenance and the ability to now update software and engine calibrations quickly and over-the-air. More connected solutions are quickly being developed and are part of Cummins’ ADEPT software suite.

“Through our connectivity and service solutions, we are committed to keeping our customers in business and maximizing efficiency,” Padmanabhan added. “We can support their unique needs and ensure we can anticipate, assess and act no matter when, where, or how they need us with our people and our products like Guidanz, Connected Diagnostics, Connected Software Updates and Fleetguard FIT.”

He concluded by mentioning that Cummins will release its next-generation of heavy-duty engines in 2022 that will offer less weight and better performance in a smaller footprint.